Thursday, July 25, 2024

Blackmore’s Night – Shadow Of The Moon (25th anniversary edition)

Ritchie Blackmore made his name, not just as a guitar God in the late sixties and throughout the seventies with Deep Purple and Rainbow – but also through his rep for headstrong, divisive and arrogant behaviour, someone prepared to walk out on any band if things aren’t to his liking. But for the last few decades, alongside inamorata Candace Night, he’s been pursuing a completely different path in Blackmore’s Night, which is a radical departure from the hard rock he’d been previously known for.

Blackmore’s Night was an attempt at fusing Blackmore’s rock leanings with romantic medieval sounds, added to which was the lyrical imagination of Candace, to create something uniquely different, which meant no wailing guitar hysterics or tangents. You want ‘Child In Time’ (Deep Purple)? No Chance. What you will get, apart from a few synth keyboards and the occasional electric guitar break, is just Blackmore playing some delightful acoustic guitar, alongside other medieval instruments like the Hurdy Gurdy, as an accompaniment to some occasionally quite beautiful melodies. They weren’t the first band to do this .. The Amazing Blondel preceded them by three decades .. but they were probably the most high profile, and twenty-five years on, they’re still out there doing it.

Shadow Of The Moon was originally released in 1997 and is now being reissued, after being fully, ‘lovingly restored, remastered and remixed,’ and includes two previously unreleased acoustic recordings, ‘Shadow Of The Moon’ and ‘Spirit Of The Sea’, both recorded during a home session in 2022. The 2022 version of ‘Spirit Of The Sea’ is only half the length of the original but no less gorgeous. On both songs, Candace’s voice 25 years on sounds slightly deeper but she’s still able to match the beauty of the originals.

The sound is richer and more enhanced and the atmosphere evoked and the music has the feel of medieval travelling minstrels and gipsies spreading tales of legend and folklore. It’s well played and tuneful, with the vocals of Candace Night quite gorgeous. Tracks like ‘Wish You Were Here’ (not the Floyd song) and ‘Magical World’ are fine pop/folk songs. ‘Ocean Gypsy,’ originally performed by Renaissance, is covered lovingly, and ‘Greensleeves’ is the original folk song, not the 16th-century version covered by Rainbow. When the electric guitars are used, as on ‘No Second Chance’ and ‘Writing On The Wall’, it’s used sparingly to enhance rather than submerge the song. There‘s even the addition of prog legend Ian Anderson, the original minstrel in the gallery, performing instantly recognisable flute duties on ‘Play Minstrel Play’, and his presence is welcome on anything I listen to. And if anyone was in any doubt, the three short acoustic instrumentals, ‘Minstrel Hall’, ‘Memmingen’ and ‘Mond Tanz’ clearly prove Blackmore can more than hold his own on this instrument.

Anyone approaching Shadow Of The Moon with an open mind .. even better, forget there’s a bona fide 1970s guitar hero on the album .. will find a delightful listening experience, with some beautiful melodies which evoke a warm ambience, and music described by Candace Night as ‘feel good, soul searching music.’ Credit to Blackmore for daring to try something radically different from the genre where he built his rep.

Laurence Todd
Laurence Todd
Took early retirement after many years as a teacher in order to write books as well as about music. A long-time music obsessive, has wide and eclectic tastes but particularly likes prog rock and rock in general. Enjoys going to gigs and discovering new acts.

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Ritchie Blackmore made his name, not just as a guitar God in the late sixties and throughout the seventies with Deep Purple and Rainbow - but also through his rep for headstrong, divisive and arrogant behaviour, someone prepared to walk out on any band...Blackmore’s Night - Shadow Of The Moon (25th anniversary edition)